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photo of teacher and studentBuilding a Community of Writers
in a First Grade Classroom


Mattie Davis , Frederick Douglass Elementary School
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


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Building Rituals and Routines Teaching Writing Conferencing with Students
boy two girls four girls students with teacher students presenting


This site illustrates how a teacher in an under-resourced school located in a high poverty urban neighborhood works closely with students to build a strong classroom community and while teaching the mandated curriculum which emphasizes phonics and rote learning. Although she feels the press to adhere strictly to the district literacy curriculum, Mattie Davis is committed to teaching in a way that builds on the knowledge and interests her children bring into the classroom. While the program she is required to use is highly scripted and follows an inflexible pacing guide, she uses her deep knowledge of the students, their families and the community to teach the students in a way that is respectful and provides them with the support they need to grow individually and as a class. She teaches them the fundamentals of how to read and write in several different ways. Perhaps most importantly, she teaches the students in a manner that infuses her passion and theirs into learning, while quietly insisting on high standards.  Regardless of district pressure, she is determined that “we’re going to continue to sing and dance no matter what.” .

Working in first grade
(2:59)
Working in first grade
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Site last updated March 15, 2006